The Lok Ayukta Act, which recently got Presidential assent, is likely to go a long way in checking corruption in Uttarakhand, the first state to bring the post of chief minister under the Act’s ambit. Key provisions of the Act include rigorous punishment, specially to the business class, protection of whistle-blowers, prosecution in a time-bound manner and independence from the government’s interference.
The Bill, which won praise from social activists like Anna Hazare, also brings in its ambit the judges, excluding those from the high court. A comparison with Uttar Pradesh showed the Lok Ayukta Act was stronger and provided full independence to the investigating authority from government’s interference. One big change is the permission for prosecution will be given by the Lok Ayukta itself, not the government.
The new Lokayukta is also empowered to conduct a departmental inquiry against corrupt officials and recommend dismissal, removal and reduction in rank. The recommendation will be binding on the government.
For speedy trial, there is a provision for setting up of special courts established under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, where the charges will be filed after the completion of investigation. The period of investigation has been restricted to only 12 months.